Thursday, May 04, 2017

Counterpoints: Christopher Hitchens vs. William Lane Craig on the Timing of Christ's Coming

Christopher Hitchens: "I've taken the best advice I can on how long Homo sapiens has been on the planet. Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, many others, and many discrepant views from theirs, reckon it's not more than 250,000 years, a quarter of a million years. It's not less, either. I think it's roughly accepted, [to Francis Collins] I think, sir you wouldn't disagree. 100,000 is the lowest I've heard and actually I was about to say, again not to sound too Jewish, I'll take 100,000. I only need 100,000, call it one hundred. For 100,000 years Homo sapiens was born, usually, well not usually, very often dying in the process or killing its mother in the process; life expectancy probably not much more than 20, 25 years, dying probably of the teeth very agonizingly, nearer to the brain as they are, or of hunger or of micro-organisms that they didn't know existed or of events such as volcanic or tsunami or earthquake types that would have been wholly terrifying and mysterious as well as some turf wars over women, land, property, food, other matters. You can fill in—imagine it for yourself what the first few tens of thousands of years were like. And we like to think learning a little bit in the process and certainly having gods all the way, worshipping bears fairly early on, I can sort of see why; sometimes worshipping other human beings...this and that and the other thing, but exponentially perhaps improving, though in some areas of the world very nearly completely dying out, and a bitter struggle all along. Call it 100,000 years. According to the Christian faith, heaven watches this with folded arms for 98,000 years and then decides it's time to intervene and the best way of doing that would be a human sacrifice in primitive Palestine, where the news would take so long to spread that it still hasn't penetrated very large parts of the world and that would be our redemption of human species."1

William Lane Craig:  "Well, now, Mr. Hitchens says, but why did God wait so long before he sent Christ?  Human beings have existed for thousands of years on this planet before Christ's coming. Well, what's really crucial here is not the time involved; rather, it's the population of the world.  The Population Reference Bureau estimates that the number of people who have ever lived on this planet is about 105 billion people.  Only 2% of them were born prior to the advent of Christ.  Erik Kreps of the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research says, 'God's timing couldn't have been more perfect. Christ showed up just before the exponential explosion in the world's population.'  The Bible says in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, and when Christ came, the nation of Israel had been prepared.  The Roman peace dominated the Mediterranean world; it was an age of literacy and learning.  The stage was set for the advent of God's Son into the world.  And I think in God's providential plan for human history, we see the wisdom of God in orchestrating the development of human life and then in bringing Christ into the world in the fullness of time."2

You can find our other "Counterpoints" posts here.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Debate- Poison or the Cure?: Religious Beliefs in the Modern World, Debate Transcript here.
2. Debate- Does God Exist?: William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens, Debate Transcript is here.

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